WEST ORANGE, N.J. -- Seton Hall Prep may have been the more seasoned squad when it comes to state playoff experience, but an upstart Bergen Catholic team proved that it could be a force to be reckoned with in New Jersey's high school version of March madness.
The Crusaders went into Seton Hall Prep last night as the 10th seed in North Jersey Parochial A Group, and emerged with a 65-50 victory over the second seeded Pirates.
But the catalyst in the run was 6-0 junior point/combo guard Joe Sandberg, who scored 16 of his game high 21 points in the second half to propel the Crusaders into the next round of the playoffs.
"Joey Sandberg was the difference in the game," said Seton Hall Prep Head Coach Bob Farrell. "He was much more aggressive tonight than he's been in the games that I've seen them."
Seton Hall Prep started the game banging threes and opened up a 19-10 lead after a quarter of play. Behind a stellar first half performance from 6-7 junior star Sean Banks, the Crusaders rallied in the second quarter and took a 31-30 lead going into the half-time break.
Much of the third quarter saw the teams swap leads, but with Banks resting on the bench in the final two minutes of the third quarter, B.C. went on a 5-0 run to take a 48-43 lead.
The Crusaders then proceeded to reel off the first eight points of fourth quarter to open up the 13 point lead. The Pirates got no closer the rest of the way.
"Sean carried us early when we needed to feel that we could compete," BC Head Coach Joe Dionisio said. "When he was on the bench, we had everyone playing real hard and were responsible in what we had to do. I am just thrilled and real proud of our guys, it was a great win for them, especially coming off a loss in the county finals."
Banks finished the game with 19 points, and 6-6 junior forward Adrian Joseph scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half.
Junior combo guard Jamar Nutter and senior shooting guard Anthony Drejaj led Seton Hall Prep with 20 points apiece.
After starting the game on a roll from the perimeter, the Pirates finished just five of 24 from beyond the arc. They could not buy a three pointer during the fourth quarter, when B.C. put the game away in the 13-0 surge.
Photo: Anthony Drejaj (R) Passes Off/Sean Banks Defends